FC Bayern München will hope to extend their advantage at the top before nearest rivals Borussia Dortmund take on Taiwo Awoniyi’s fourth-placed Union Berlin on Matchday 22 in the Bundesliga.
Defending champions Bayern beat RB Leipzig last time out, and that 3-2 home success means they have a nine-point cushion over Dortmund with 13 games left.
Bayern next travel to promoted VfL Bochum 1848 on Saturday without their captain Manuel Neuer, who will miss several weeks after undergoing knee surgery.
Sven Ulreich should replace Germany goalkeeper Neuer, who equalled the record for most Bundesliga career wins (310) in his last outing.
Robert Lewandowski got his league-high 24th goal of the campaign against Leipzig, but his team will need to be at their best to overcome plucky Bochum this weekend.
Bayern’s opponents in 11th have lost just twice at home this season.
Second-placed Dortmund won’t be in action until Sunday, a full week after their painful 5-2 home defeat against third-placed Bayer 04 Leverkusen.
They have a potentially uncomfortable away game on the cards, with Union having won six and drawn three of their 10 home games to date.
Erling Haaland is back in training, though, so the visitors could be boosted by the 16-goal Norwegian’s return from injury. They could do with him, too, given that Dortmund have lost on their two previous trips to face Union.
Nigeria’s Awoniyi would be seeking to score his second goal against the visitors in only his third appearance against them.
Awoniyi scored the opener when Union Berlin won 2-1 at the An der Alten Försterei in Berlin in December 2020.
The Super Eagle has scored nine times in 18 Bundesliga appearances so far this season. The 24 year old is however yet to score this year after returning from AFCON duty with Nigeria.
Matchday 22 kicks off with another top fixture on Friday, when sixth-placed Köln travel to take on a Leipzig team who are a point behind them in the standings.
Eight of Leipzig’s nine Bundesliga wins this season have come at home, but Cologne have French striker Anthony Modeste for inspiration.
The 33-year-old was the hero in their 1-0 win over Freiburg, meaning he now has 14 Bundesliga goals for the season and six in his last six league games.
Also a point behind Cologne – and three points off the top four – are Eintracht Frankfurt. The Eagles soared to a 3-2 win at VfB Stuttgart last week, and they next host VfL Wolfsburg on Saturday.
The Wolves re-signed talismanic attacker Max Kruse from Union last month, though, and they ended a nine-game winless run in the Bundesliga by beating SpVgg Greuther Fürth 4-1 in his first game back at the club.
Only three points separate SC Freiburg in fifth and 1. FSV Mainz 05 in tenth, while at the other end of the table Borussia Mönchengladbach’s meeting with FC Augsburg looks crucial too.
Gladbach drew at Arminia Bielefeld last time out, so they are now just a point above Saturday’s visitors who are third from bottom.
Augsburg – who should have US attacker Ricardo Pepi available again–gave their chances of avoiding the drop a real boost by beating Union 2-0 on Matchday 21.
Hertha Berlin are – like Gladbach – only a point above the relegation zone, and after their 1-1 home draw with Bochum they could do with victory at bottom side Fürth.
Saturday’s late kick-off sees freescoring Leverkusen try to make it four wins on the spin when they welcome second-bottom Stuttgart, while on Sunday eighth-placed TSG Hoffenheim are home to in-form but fourth-from-bottom Bielefeld.